family survives the Samudra death, saves two girls
By Asif Fuard
A soldier clutching two of his children clung on
to the roof of the train and then rescued his wife and his third
child from the water-filled compartment in last Sunday's tsunami
Keerthilal Nanayakkara of the army Engineers corps, his wife Kumari
Ranjani and three children got into the Samudra Devi train on that
fateful day from the Colombo, Fort station in the morning. The family
were to spend the holiday season with relatives in Galle.
they passed Amabalangoda, the train came to a halt and a large crowd
was on the rail track looking at the unusual phenomenon on the beach.
Upon seeing a towering wave coming towards them, the people tried
to get into the train, Mr. Nanayakkara said.
first wave that hit the train toppled the first carriage and all
those in it drowned. Water came into other carriages upto the window
level. We were on the third carriage and the wave had jolted the
carriage. I climbed on top of the carriage with two of my sons clinging
on to me.
five minutes a wave that went ten feet over the train hit us and
toppled the train. We clung on to the train. But I knew my wife
and my oldest son were stuck inside the toppled carriage. I pulled
both of them through the window of the carriage. Later my wife managed
to rescue two girls. "When there was a lull, we managed to
hold on to a wire and reach a lagoon. We all swam across the water
which was by then calm and shallow. We walked about several kilometres
and found refuge in a temple," the soldier said recalling the
horror that killed more than 1000 passengers of the train.